China has refused to participate in an arbitration launched by the Philippines regarding their disputes in the South China Sea. Japan has refused to acknowledge that it has a dispute with China regarding Senkaku/Diaoyu. The Republic of Korea (South Korea) has rejected Japan’s offer to refer their dispute over Dokdo/Takeshima to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on the grounds that there is no dispute. These developments may give the impression that Asians are against submitting their disputes to the international legal process. Such an impression would be incorrect.
Situation in South-east Asia
THE countries in South-east Asia have a positive track record of referring their disputes to the international legal process. Let me briefly discuss some of the most important cases.
- The Preah Vihear case
The first case submitted by two South-east Asian countries to the ICJ was the dispute over the temple, Preah Vihear, between Cambodia and Thailand. Cambodia brought the case to the court in 1959 and, in 1962, ICJ awarded sovereignty over the temple to Cambodia.